On June 6, the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, of the Blind Man, the faithful gathered at St. Vladimir’s Cemetery in Jackson, NJ for a panihida at St. John the Baptist Chapel to commemorate the victims of Lienz. The service was officiated by Archpriest Boris Slootsky, co-served by Priest Anthony Williams and Protodeacon Paul Drozdowski (all clerics of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
On June 1, 1945, at the conclusion of the Second World War, over 20,000 Cossacks were rounded up by the British Army near the town of Lienz, Austria, and handed over for deportation to the Soviet Union. This action was in accordance with agreements at the Yalta and Tehran Conferences of the Allied Powers, which determined that all Soviet refuges and prisoners of war be repatriated if found within other Allied-controlled zones. As many of the Cossacks at Lienz were White émigrés and their children, they refused repatriation on account of the fact that they had never been Soviet citizens. This led to an organized forcible removal, which began while the Cossacks had gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in an open field. The resulting operation left hundreds of Cossack men, women, and children dead, while hundreds more were sent to certain death in the Soviet camps. By tradition, the Kuban Cossack Voisko Abroad commemorates the victims of this tragedy every year on the nearest Sunday to June 1, and St. John the Baptist Chapel – built in honor of the Holy Passion-Bearer Tsarevich Alexis, Most August Ataman of All Cossack Hosts – likewise commemorates those fallen at Lienz.
An honor guard was present, holding Russian and American flags, as well as the banners of the Kuban, Don, and Terek Cossack Voiskos. Also coming to pray at the annual commemoration for the departed were survivors of that terrible event, including the Ataman of the Kuban Cossack Voisko Abroad, Alexander M. Pewnew.
Afterward, a memorial luncheon was then held at the Kuban Cossack Hall in Howell, at which time guests were also invited to visit the conjoining Cossack Museum.